I have to begin this Monday racing review with very sad news. For the second straight meet, a Canadian motorcycle racer has died.
Two weeks ago, at a Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a Quebec rider, Christian Auger, 34, was badly hurt in a crash and passed away in a Toronto hospital a week ago Friday.
Saturday, in the final round of the Superbike season at Le Circuit-Mont Tremblant in Quebec, a 24-year-old Calgary rider, John Ross (J.R.) MacRae, crashed during qualifying and died Sunday morning at Sacre-Coeur hospital in Montreal.
Frontline CSBK Inc., organizer of the championship, issued a statement saying that MacRae became a regular competitor in the national series in 2011 when he joined the Ruthless Racing team in the XR1200 Cup class. He was running third in the standings after winning his first national event two weeks ago at CTMP.
He also raced in the Hindle Exhaust Pro Sport Bike class and ended the season second in the championship.
“John Ross MacRae was one of the bright young stars in our sport and his loss is a great tragedy for Canadian racing,” Director of Competition Colin Fraser said in a release. “He was very popular with his fellow competitors and was greatly respected. Our sympathies go out to the MacRae family and his friends.”
Don James, chairman and CEO, said on behalf of series sponsor Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada that MacRae would be remembered as an "enthusiastic and talented racer whose contribution will be forever remembered. He will be missed by the entire Deeley family and those who knew him best . Our thoughts and prayers go to J.R’s family and friends."
MONDAY SPEED CENTRE HEADLINES:
1. IndyCar race in Sonoma a disgrace all-'round
2. Let's hope Italian Grand Prix is more exciting than Spa
3. NASCAR, karts, Jordan Szoke and more
1. IndyCar has the nerve to call Sonoma farce a race
I watched most of what was advertised as an Indy car race on television Sunday but I have to admit I got so sick and tired of watching the race cars follow a pace car around and around and around that I got in my own car and went and bought some takeout chicken.
When I got back, they were still behind the pace car. I found out I hadn't missed much because they'd apparently gotten back to racing while I was out, only to have another crash.
There were seven full-course yellows during that race. That's an average of one every 12 laps or so. Twenty-one of the 85 laps were behind the pace car - and a slow lap around that 2.5-mile long course can take forever. It took two hours and 20 minutes to finish the race - about an hour longer than it took the F1 drivers to get the Grand Pix of Belgium out of the way earlier Sunday.
Please. These Indy people want to call themselves professionals?
And then there was the most unprofessional reporting of a racing accident I have ever heard.
Never mind how the accident happened. We'll get to that later. But Scott Dixon ran into a member of Will Power's pit crew and replays showed the man was sent flying through the air and he LANDED ON HIS HEAD.
It is a miracle - a miracle - he wasn't killed or seriously injured.
But before the guy hit the ground, colour commentator Wally Dallanbach Jr., who should be fired for this performance, is screaming that the guy deliberately tried to be hit by Dixon's race car.
On and on Dallenbach went, how Dixon was completely innocent and the pit crew member was completely at fault. On and on. It got to the point where my wife, who is not a race fan but humours me by sitting and reading the Huffington Post website while I watch races, looked up and said, "Does he realize how stupid he sounds?"
That was before the announcement that Dixon would be penalized and Dallenbach had another hissy fit. "What?" he yelled. And more on and on. Whereupon my wife got up and left the room.
She left before Wally showed why he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near an announcing booth again. Wally suggested that Dixon disobey the order, presumably to show IndyCar who's boss. "I'd stay out," he said.
Can you imagine Darrell Waltrip, or Larry McReynolds, making a suggestion like that on a NASCAR telecast?
Then Scott Dixon, in an interview afterward, ripped into the crew member he hit as having walked into his car deliberately and then criticized the officiating for finding him at fault and giving him a drive-through penalty (he had been leading at the time and that dropped him to 21st; he eventually finished 15th).
(It might have been nice, by the way, if Dixon had expressed some concern for the health and well-being of the guy he hit. He might have started his rant by saying he was sorry someone had been hit in pit lane regardless of who was at fault but that was something absolutely nobody seemed to give a damn about during this whole sorry incident.)
If I'm in charge of the IndyCar Series today, I am already drafting a memo to all competitors and it will be in their email in-boxes no later than noon Monday. This is what it will say:
" The next time any driver or team spokesperson publicly criticizes the officials or the officiating of this series - in any way, shape or form - they will be fined $100,000. For a second offence, it will be $200,000. A third offence? See you next year - maybe."
The drivers ran Brian Barnhart out of Dodge and now they're going after Beaux Barfield. This is embarrassing. I have a suggestion for the drivers: start behaving like adult race-car drivers, which means stop running into each other on the race track and stop hitting and/or running into people in pit lane. If you do that, the officials won't have to get involved.
As far as the accident goes, Barfield explained that the pit boxes everybody sees on TV are NASCAR pit boxes, and IndyCar pit boxes are different. He said the incdent occurred when Dixon drove through Power's pit box.
And even if the crew member was careless, you should do everything you can to not hit him, which Dixon did not appear to do.
NASCAR pit stops, when everybody's in the pits, go like this: the jack drops and the driver cranks the steering wheel as far right as it will go as he/she guns it. This is done so as not to run into anybody or any thing. Once into the slow lane, the driver cranks the wheel left. It happens in the blink of an eye but it's done like that in order to make every effort to avoid any kind of contact.
Dixon should watch a few of those because he might learn something about leaving the pits when there's a car and crew in front of him.
Power won the race, with Justin Wilson second and Dario Franchitti third. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville wound up eighth. J.R. Hildebrand, who replaced Canadian Alex Tagliani in the Barracuda Racing car, finished 16th, which is just about where Tag finishes so no real improvement there.
As indicated, it was all very painful to watch on television. Can you imagine having gone to that race and having had to pay to get in?
2, Let's hope the Grand Prix of Italy is more exciting than the Belgian Grand Prix.
I wrote this on Sunday morning after the GP and it stands up, as they say.